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Report shows loss of doctors in Alberta in 2020

CALGARY (CityNews) – At a time when health care workers are feeling pushed to the edge, on the front lines of a pandemic, some are being pushed over it and taking their skills elsewhere.

A report from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta shows a loss of more than 30 doctors from the province in the last quarter of 2020.

One family physician said that part of the problem continues to be the inability to bill for virtual visits on the same level as in-person appointments.

“It puts us at a really big financial disadvantage, and no one here is trying to get rich,” said Michelle Klassen. “You don’t get into family medicine if you wanna get rich, but the reality is we’re having trouble operating our clinics now. It’s that grim.”

Meanwhile, another doctor said she’s already packed up and moved across the country for what she calls “freedom from vilification”.

“I always wanted to stay in Alberta but there was just too much frustration that kinda went on in the spring,” said Lindsey Campbell. “I just felt that we really weren’t being heard. I spoke at a rally of 4000 people, I met with my MLA. It just felt like we were going nowhere.”

Last October, Health Minister Tyler Shandro reported that Alberta had hit its highest registration of physicians ever.

RELATED: More doctors practicing in Alberta than leaving: Health Minister

CityNews reached out to the health ministry to ask if the loss of doctors since then is a concern.

A spokesperson for the health minister points to the change for physicians year over year, a net increase from 2019, stating that the report is good news showing that Alberta is a “great place to practice medicine.”

But for those working with Albertans day-to-day, it’s a much different story.

“I have never really thought about leaving the province, I would prefer not to,” said Klassen. “It is a discussion in our house right now, in terms of what are we going to do long term because this is untenable.”

“It’s gonna take some time for those numbers to really reflect the loss of physicians,” added Campbell. “More so family physicians.”